Haworthia Revisited – 58. Haworthia kingiana

58. Haworthia kingiana V.Poelln., Cactus.J 5:31(1936).  V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 41:203(1937).  Bayer :126(1976).  Bayer :80(1982).  Scott :23(1985).  H. subfasciata var. kingiana V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:218(1938).  Type: Cape, Mrs Helm.  Not preserved:  Neotype, B&M: CAPE-3422 (Mossel Bay): Great Brak (-AA), Dekenah 201 (NBG).

kingiana: in honour of Mrs E.B. King.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, to 180mm tall.  Leaves to 160 X 18mm, nearly as thick as wide, attenuate, spreading, lanceolate-deltoid, surfaces scabrid with raised rounded non-confluent tubercles, colour yellowish-green.  Inflorescence sparsely branched, lax.  Flowers tepals fused, tube straight, lobes abbreviated, veins pinkish.

1982 – Von Poellnitz does not record the type locality but it is known from Long’s records to have been at Great Brak, one of the very few localities where this species occurs.  It is a bright green species, smooth textured but with indistinct, flat, rounded tubercles.  It occurs to the west as far as Herbertsdale, but is very uncommom.  The colour alone is sufficient to distinguish this species from H. minima.  Occasional forms occur with very white tubercles, and completely glabrous forms have also been found.  Large specimens can be up to 150 mm tall.  Offsetting does occur but clumps seldom have even as many as 5 heads.

1999 – This species must be regarded as threatened by the extensive development in the Great Brak area.  It has been reported from the Herbertsdale area also but this is still unconfirmed.  It is known to occur north of the Robinson Pass, but it is not known how substantial it is there.  J.M. Esterhuysen has commented (private communication) on the similarity of a collection of H. minima from near Heidelberg to this species.  J.D. Venter has also collected similar bright green forms of H. minima from Heidelberg too.  There may thus be little point in maintaining H. kingiana as a separate species apart from the geographic close proximity of H. minima at Hartenbos and Mossel Bay.  In the general context of Haworthia, this is not a unique problem at all and an argument to embrace H. maxima and H. marginata as one species, could be presented on similar grounds.

H. kingiana is not very successful in cultivation and besides, few of the larger members of either the Hexangulares or Robustipedunculares are sought after by collectors.  This is, of course, after the initial enthusiasm to acquire one of every species has waned.

Distribution: 3322 (Oudtshoorn): Moeras River (-CC), Bayer & Venter 6596 (NBG).  3421 (Riversdale, Herbertsdale (-BB), Smith 6151 (NBG).  3422 (Mossel Bay): Little Brak, Barswell (-AA), Bayer (NBG); Great Brak (‑AA), Dekenah 201 (NBG), Smith 3956, 7344 (NBG), Fourcade 64 (NBG); E. Great Brak (-AA), Fourcade 387 (BOL); Outeniqua Stn. (-AB), Fourcade 194 (NBG).

Inadequately located: Mossel Bay, Britten (BOL).